gracefully aging

While admiring the Pulsatilla vulgaris this spring,Pulsatilla I began thinking of how the life of a flower from bud to seedpod loosely parallels our lives. When we are young and in full bloom, we turn our faces to the sun and bask in our youthful beauty and exuberance. It is a time of unlimited possibilities and much exploration. Our petals are shiny and bright. We are filled with youthful optimism and yearn to reach higher and experience as much as we can.

 And then, as time goes on, we gain more knowledge and a deeper wisdom about life.Pulsatilla3 We have cycled
through our early adulthood and have reached middle age. We have learned much about life and love and know the meaning of loss. We know, too, what is really of value and what we cherish.

It is a time of a different sort of beauty- more of a radiant, inner one. Even though we are exhorted to try and maintain youthful appearances and banish any outward signs of aging, there is a dignity nonetheless in allowing ourselves to enjoy the skin that we're in.

Just as with the Pulsatilla, the seedpods are not as flashy as the flowers, but they still have an allure. There is a mystery to them. They are occupied with other things beyond passing fads and pleasing others. Sometimes these are hard lessons to learn. 

33 thoughts on “gracefully aging

  1. Aging gracefully … seems to be a lost art. D and I were talking about this recently. I remember how nice it was to have a granny, that LOOKED like a granny … was soft and cushy, not dressed in the latest fashion mode but a comfortable, granny mode, graying hair and all. I knew my granny from my mother … it helped my young mind wrap around age.

  2. I’ve been having a rather hard time with this very subject. Your beautiful posts such as this do help though. 🙂 I hope you are well, friend. I’ve been meaning to check in on you.

  3. Yes, aging is sometimes hard to come to terms with. But I’ve got to say the positives far outweigh the negatives. I’m finding my “mature years” to be much more interesting and fullfilling than when I was young. There seem to be many more doors open or opening.. I just wish my feet didn’t ache so much after a day of gardening! Have a great week Kate.

  4. An interesting comparison Kate. I am enjoying the seed part of my life. I hope you are too.

  5. I believe it is the observer, more than the object being observed, who determines what graceful aging means. You look at the entire life cycle of the Pulsatilla vulgaris and find different things to admire about every phase. Not everyone has your vision.
    Old, and even middle-aged, women in our culture are not much observed. We become invisible. So (and this is in response to Cicero, really) I can’t fault anyone for refusing to put on a granny mask just to make others comfortable with their stereotypes of aging. Conversely, when I was younger, I didn’t like being lumped in with my generation, either. I prefer to be seen for who I am, not for what age group I’m supposed to be representing.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that people are often accused of trying to be something they aren’t when they are actually just being something other people think they shouldn’t be. Anyway, another lessons flowers teach is that deception is perfectly natural.
    In my mind aging gracefully is not the same thing as withering away innocuously. Your Pulsatilla is brilliant in all stages of life and just as attention-getting.

  6. Such a wise, thoughtful post. So many people fear aging – unnecessarily, I think. There is a great deal of joy for me in getting older. The only thing I really fear is a bout of sustained ill-health. But so far, so good. And every now and then I still, with joy, turn my face to the sun. (I do apply SPF 30 first though. LOL.)

  7. There’s a time for everything and isn’t it exciting to discover what each year and phase of life has in store for us.Kate you have done a beautiful job illustrating this fact in your post.

  8. Great observation, Kate. And one that I am fine with. I am thinking that the best comes when we have the experience to recognize and enjoy it.
    Happy gardening!

  9. I like your analogy. I remember a few years ago realizing that I was finally comfortable in my own skin as I had always been very selfconscious. It is true that as we age young people no longer ‘see’ us, but people of our own age still do. We recognize each other, our wisdom and experience.

  10. A marvellous piece of writing with great comparisons. I feel I am not quite ready for the compost heap just yet! x

  11. the pasque flower is one of my very favorite wildflowers. i haven’t yet managed to get them to grow in a garden for me, but i’m stubborn enough to keep trying, and your lovley photos are good motivation to renew my efforts. thanks for the visit. i’ve missed you too.

  12. Kate, a beautiful meditation on aging with dignity and grace. Whether we choose to enhance ourselves or not, we all age. We must choose ourselves how we want to do it.

  13. Hi Kate,
    This is a lovely and thoughtful post. Now that I am almost 50, I can see the beauty and grace of middle age. When I was young, I thought middle age to be dowdy.
    Being in our garden invited me to revery as well. Keep sharing.

  14. Such a thought provoking piece, Kate. At some time in our lives we pass that point where as youths we believe ourselves to be immortal and in our maturity know we are not.Which does not mean we are not beautiful at all ages, just takes a practised eye to see it. As you do.

  15. A beautiful entry, Kate, and how true. I like Judith’s comment (above) that it just takes a practised eye to see certain beauty.

  16. Oh Kate, what a lovely reflection. Now I can think of myself as losing my petals but gaining in shapely seed-podness. 🙂

  17. Kate, what a thoughtful reflection on beauty and age. It’s as if we’ve joined you in garden meditation. You’ve captured how nature moves us to look both inside and out.
    I’ve been thinking of you. I took your recommendation to visit the Oxford Botanical Gardens and really enjoyed it – thank you! Call it a prequel for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.
    It’s so good to see you blogging again and taking your life experiences and letting them bloom into such lovely images and words.

  18. In my family vernacular, “going to seed” is not a good thing. It speaks of Johnson grass or foxtail making the crop production decline and costs money to eradicate. I like your way of looking at it much better.
    As you have viewed, I am struggling with age but more than that, feeling less than filled up with the good things life is offering me under my nose. I think it’s just a flaw of mine to view the glass as half-full- me as half full. I have always looked at the one negative thing and that completely obliterates the 10 positive things.
    Cheers to you Kate, and thanks very much for such good posts and your gentle outlook.

  19. How true Kate, how true your lovely comparison! Wonderful post! Take ivy for example, it gets more beautiful when aging 😉 as in human life the “inner beauty” also grows 😉 when getting older (at least it should!!).

  20. Kate…..from someone who is very happy in her own skin, that was a beautifully written post. It truly says, I think, how most feel.

  21. So very true, but then there’s the stage beyond the seedpod. I’ve entered that stage and I’m trying to find beauty and meaning to it all, which in the end, is best said by Pablo Neruda’s poem, ‘Ode to Some Yellow Flowers’.

  22. And, of course, fall is the most beautiful season, when, even as the chlorophyll drains away, nature’s true colors are revealed in that spectacular blaze of glory. I might add that, though fall is the loveliest season (and my favorite), winter is the most dramatic. We should all prepare to make the most of it!

  23. I, for one, love the seed pods, the flowers may be beautiful, but the pods are unusual, interesting, sometimes out of this world…how boring would it be if we all looked the same?

  24. much food for thought and beautifully written kate. the photographs are lovely too, bright and sunny and very different from the stark beauty of the winter pictures in your earlier posts.
    i always think that there is no greater art that the ones found in nature. i am partial to the beauty of the seed pods.

  25. Your post is a good one Kate – but after three days of thinking about it I still have no coherent comment so will just say Hello!
    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  26. Well, I’m glad then that I am as equally drawn to aging flowers and seed pods as the flowers when they are in bloom! Most years I let my brocolli and collards go to seed (oh, an arugula too – I love arugula flowers as they age, they become like beautiful rice paper flowers) – oh, I could go on…but I need to get out and water a bit before the day once again hits 90 degrees! (Oh, and good luck with your additional vegetables this season – I have always had a vegetable garden, and need to harvest red potatoes today, and plant sweet potatoes – but we are so hot that I can’t do some things, but do have eggplants and peppers and tomatoes and cucumbers and watermelons – those things that like it HOT and HUMID!)

  27. You have written some wise words on aging. I am enjoying the process myself, so far 🙂 I am hoping I am wiser, and able to share what I know on gardening, or my faith, with others who ask me. I believe everyone needs a younger companion and an older companion, and when we have this, we are rich indeed.

  28. So beautiful Kate! Who said old age is not beautiful? Maybe only cosmetics industry wants us to think that!

  29. Such a lovely analogy, Kate, and so true. Would you mind if I cut and pasted this for one of my folders or better still, pass it on to the Elderwoman group I belong to?

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